With the introduction of the Apple Watch and a host of other smart watches that are already on the shelves, the idea of smart, wearable technology is heating up, and not just for humans. Now dogs are getting wearable tech, too.
Technologically advanced dog collars already exist and allow owners to communicate or track their pups with GPS. WÜF
is aiming introduce a new smart collar that includes a variety of different sensors to help train dogs -- and their owners -- to be better pals. The company, split between Denver and Boulder's Galvanize locations, is testing its third-generation prototype and plans to launch a Kickstarter campaign in November to move toward introducing the new Colorado-made smart collar.
"We want to help all dog owners to be better dog owners," says WÜF CEO Sean Kelly. "That's training the human and training the dog." He explains that WÜF takes a different approach to training dogs.
The collar offers two-way communications as well as vibration to help train dogs, but instead of being like a normal training class WÜF has adopted a gamified approach based on Duolingo
-style training. "With the voice commands it starts off with you, the phone and dog." As well as with basic commands like sit and stay. But users can up the training or purchase additional training packages.
"The beauty comes in when your dog knows the command and then when you're at work that command comes out automatically from the collar because the collar detected that he's jumping inside the house and you don't want him to do that," Kelly says. "Automatically, 'No, down' comes out of the collar and you're training the dog -- even when you're not with the dog, which is something we're really excited about."
The collar will also allow the owner to track the dog. "We're looking at some new technologies," Kelly says, including an alternative to GPS that allows for communication in a roughly 50-mile radius. "It would remove the need for Wi-Fi and GSM and allow it to connect, with the owner," he says. It also means that users don't have to subscribe to a service to keep the device communicating.
Though the company got its start at Galvanize in Boulder, it has added Denver as a second location. "We like the opportunities that both cities present, so ideally we'll look to maintain a presence in both cities," Kelly says.
Boulder will likely remain the company's production facility, explains Lizelle van Vuuren, WÜF's chief marketing officer. "Denver will be its sales and marketing, as well as business development office."
Right now, the company is focused on building interest in the devices. "We're planning to launch the Kickstarter at the end of November. The big push right now is to get people to stay tuned and subscribe
The device will retail for about $129 but Kickstarter participants will likely be able to get theirs for about $99.
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